No-one puts a gun to your head when you enter a convenience store or supermarket and makes you buy certain items. But you’d think that was the case if you read the latest findings from Which?.
The consumer group sent people into four big supermarket chains wearing special headsets to see how they were influenced by the way the stores were laid out. As we all know, this has been done many times before so there’s really nothing new here but you wouldn’t think so. A Which? spokesperson said: "Our shopper almost made it past the cheese offers but then appeared to be drawn back by the motion of the wobbling sign." Oh my, surely the hypnotic powers of such signs should be reported to Health & Safety?
Reports in the Daily Mail said the Which? experience exposed the "psychological warfare waged by stores to subconsciously steer customers towards products that deliver the biggest profits". Sounds a bit OTT to me.
When I’ve been wandering up and down the aisles of Sainsbury’s I’ve never felt that I was the target of psychological warfare. Yes, certain things were highlighted in ways to make me want to buy them, but I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to. Apparently the people in the Which? test all had shopping lists but all came out with more items than they had anticipated but again there was nothing stopping them from sticking to their lists.
However, something that stopped me sticking to the shopping list in my head recently was ’insult’ pricing and lack of availability in a forecourt store. This was not a motorway site, but a symbol-branded c-store on a busy main road and they wanted £1.60 for a 500ml bottle of Diet Coke. I know the symbol group in question is hot on ’deals’ so I was surprised at this price which together with the fact that the Coke was not particularly cold, lost them a sale.
Also on my mental shopping list was a tub of ice cream such as Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-dazs (I was feeling sorry for myself!). The store had an ice cream freezer but I couldn’t see any tubs. Thinking they might be underneath the other ice creams, I asked the man behind the till and, judging by his puzzled look, I may have well have been asking for a deep fried Mars bar. Definitely a case where more ’psychological warfare’ could have improved their chances of a sale!